Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that comes from the soil. The gas can accumulate in the air we breathe. Radon gas decays into fine particles that are radioactive. When inhaled these fine particles can damage the lungs. Exposure to radon over a long period of time can lead to lung cancer.
It is estimated that 21,000 people die each year in the United States from lung cancer due to radon exposure. A radon test is the only way to know how much radon is in your home. Radon can be reduced with a mitigation system.
Radon health risks
Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and the second leading cause of lung cancer in smokers. Your risk for lung cancer increases with higher levels of radon and longer periods of exposure. If you smoke, the combined risk of smoking and radon exposure is higher. Reducing smoking and radon exposure greatly reduces the lung cancer risk.
There isn't a safe level of radon
Any radon level poses some health risk. While it is not possible to reduce radon to zero, the best approach is to lower the radon level as much as possible. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set the action level at 4 pCi/L (picocuries of radon per liter of air). It is highly recommended at 4 pCi/L or higher a radon mitigation system is installed to reduce the radon level.
Test for radon
The Dakota County Public Health Department has radon test kits available at no cost to county residents. Kits can be picked up from Public Health at:
There is a maximum of one kit per in-person request, and the department does not mail kits. Public Health is unable to distribute kits to businesses including real estate agents. The Minnesota Department of Health website has information about test kits that businesses may utilize.
The test takes five days to complete. After the kits are returned to the manufacturer in a postage paid envelop (provided), the results will be analyzed and mailed to your home.
Radon test kits are also available at local hardware and home remodeling stores. Some kits require an additional fee to analyze your results. When you purchase a kit, check to see if the purchase price includes lab analysis.
For more information on testing for radon or to request a radon test kit, contact the Dakota County Public Health Department at 952-891-7500 or visit the Minnesota Department of Health website.
Radon resources are also available in Spanish on the Centers for Disease Control and Environmental Protection Agency websites.